Ministry of Food, Week 1

I’m notorious amongst my housemates for being an incredibly lazy cook.

A typical week would probably include 2 pizzas, a microwave curry, and one night of each of: sausages and chips, burger and chips, and Birds Eye chargrilled/reggae-reggae/peri-peri chicken with chips. Some weeks would be potato wedges instead of chips.*

This year I’ve resolved to do at least slightly better. I’ve bought myself Jamie’s Ministry of Food, and since I have no lectures on a Friday this semester, I figure I should have plenty of time to cook one decent meal a week.

So yesterday I cooked fajitas. I had actually done these once before using an Old El Paso pack, but this recipe didn’t just tell me to add the sachet of spices. I think the 19 minutes suggested in the book is a bit ambitious for someone like me, it was more like double that. They were good though. I did regret the decision not to bother buying the sour cream, I normally wouldn’t bother with it when my mum cooks fajitas, but the salsa turned out to be pretty powerful stuff, so yeah, next time I’ll know better and listen to Mr. Oliver.

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I also made the Vanilla Cheesecake with a Raspberry Topping. After walking round Sainsbury’s for ages looking for “Cream Cheese” I eventually gave in and asked someone where I could find it. He wasn’t sure either, but after consulting someone else he informed me that I wouldn’t find “Cream Cheese”, but Mascarpone would do the job. Well, I’m clearly not the only cream cheese noob, so I reckon this is “instructions for beginners” fail #1.

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The requirement to put the base in the fridge for an hour, and then the completed cheesecake back in the fridge for another hour meant I arrived at pudding & film night 3/4 of an hour late and everyone was already full, so I still have most of it. Not that I’m complaining, it tastes pretty good to me, but I’m thinking I probably shouldn’t eat the lot. It serves 8.

Lessons learned from Week 1:

  • Whipping cream using just a fork is hard work.
  • Whoever said cooking from scratch works out cheaper is an idiot. Just the ingredients for the Fajitas (serves 2) cost £11.65, admittedly there were some spices in there which will last a while, but it would still be £9.25 each time. The cheesecake ingredients cost £11.08, which was mostly the raspberries at £4.99 for the 500g suggested. Is this because they’re out of season? Jamie did suggest alternatives if this was the case, but again, I don’t know that sort of stuff. “Instructions for beginners” fail #2.
  • Avoid being in Sainsbury’s at 5pm on a Friday.

*I do get a decent Sunday lunch. My church has a rota for student hospitality, meaning in term time (once it’s organised for this year) I get to go to a different house each week.